This is a rush transcript from "Media Buzz," May 27, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: On the Buzz Meter this Sunday, a massive media debate around the globe as President Trump cancels his nuclear summit with North Korea for now at least, prompting praise, scorn, and speculation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN: I think it's a good reminder first to not give undue credit to Donald Trump before it's due because we were hearing a lot about how he had secured peace with North Korea and now it looks like there's not even going to be a meeting.
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC: It shouldn't be a surprise that North Korea feels this way about John Bolton. How could the president not have known that?
JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS: I believe little rocket man lost face, was put in his place. Trump is big into respect.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS: Let the media what they hope is another Trump setback. Let them rally against peace and against American leadership in the world. But behind the scene, Trump may pull off a peace deal yet.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: And the president attacks The New York Times for using a phony source on Korea, but a leaked audio shows it was an all too real White House aide conducting a background briefing. Bret Baier is here to analyze the latest coverage of this fast moving story.
A fierce media fight as President Trump pushes his Justice Department into investigating the FBI hiring an informant to infiltrate his campaign and whether this was political spying or is now an effort to undermine law enforcement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN: What's going on here is that Donald Trump is trying to destroy this investigation. That's what's going on here.
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: In other words, Donald Trump should be grateful that Obama's FBI spied on him. It was for his own good. The people who wrote this crap should be ashamed. It's not journalism. It's partisan cheerleading.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: Why can't the Justice Department people say our job is to investigate. The FBI has been investigating people since the '30s. That's what we do. If we think a foreign power is involved with one of our presidential campaigns, damn it, that's our job.
GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS: I love the media explanation for this. We only sent this informant in there to protect Donald Trump. We were spying on you as a favor. That's like saying I'm stalking you as a favor.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: Are we now in a world of parallel investigations, each favored by pundits on the right or the left? Plus, the media lying eyes on (ph) Elizabeth Holmes as the next Silicon Valley superstar, praising (ph) her blood testing start of Theranos as revolutionary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM CRAMER, CNBC: Hi, Elizabeth. You're doing something that's so profound.
NORAH O'DONNELL, CBS NEWS: A health care pioneer is being compared to missionaries like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. This morning, Elizabeth Holmes is part of the new Time 100 list just out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: But then it all came crashing down amid charges of fraud. We'll talk to the Wall Street Journal reporter who exposed this massive scam. I'm Howard Kurtz and this is "Media Buzz."
White House correspondents were preparing for a June 12 visit to Singapore when President Trump scrapped the sit-down with North Korea's dictator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I believe that this is a tremendous setback for North Korea and indeed a setback for the world. If and when Kim Jong-un chooses to engage in constructive dialogue and actions, I am waiting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: And now the president says the meeting may be back on. Joining us to analyze the coverage: Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist and a Fox News contributor; Sara Fischer, media reporter for Axios; and Adrienne Elrod, a Democratic strategist and former Hillary Clinton advisor.
Mollie, North Korea had been using such harsh rhetoric. The president may have had little choice but to cancel this thing. But it took only hours for The Washington Post to run editorial. Trump impulsively blows up the North Korea summit. Is it worth the attention?
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: It is interesting too because The Washington Post had repeated multiple times, there is no way that Donald Trump would walk away from the summit because he needed a victory so bad. So, once he did walk away from it, then the coverage shifted to he is a bad negotiator.
It seems that no matter what he does, he will get negative coverage and that's a disservice because this is a really important story to get right with so many nuances and details and other countries involved. A little less Trump focus might be helpful.
KURTZ: So many nuances, absolutely. Adrienne, media skeptics like to say this is another example of Trump's foreign policy being erratic. But does the North Korean which is infamously mercurial about these things, bear a lot of the responsibility? The incredibly harsh attacks on John Bolton, Vice President Pence, and making threatening noises. There wasn't like this happened in a vacuum.
ADRIENNE ELROD, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, it's not like this happened in a vacuum. But again, I think the media had every right to be skeptical of this and to have skepticism in their coverage in the way that they handled the situation because Donald Trump from the very beginning, it almost seemed like it was too good to be true, right?
You know, the fact that he was able to get this meeting quickly and then all of a sudden like both sides started, you know, squabbling back and forth and then we ended up where we are now. So again, I think the media had every right to view this initially with skepticism and certainly have the right to provide skepticism when the meeting was improperly canceled.
KURTZ: Skepticism is fine. I'm talking though about negativity. And so Sara, all of this is fair amount of (ph) criticism. But many in the media didn't like it when President Trump was using incendiary languages like "little rocket man."
But then the media didn't like it when he scheduled the meeting with Kim, saying enough preparations had not been laid. And many in the media didn't like it when he canceled the meeting.
SARA FISCHER, AXIOS: He can't win here. I mean, when it comes to Trump's negotiation tactics, the media has to take a 10,000-foot view and say, look, this is the way that he does negotiation. This is the way he has been doing it throughout his entire business career.
So to take one perspective when something looks like it's going to go one way then to take another, you really got to take a step back and say, look at how this is a big part of his deal making.
KURTZ: Great point about he has negotiated this way his whole life. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it doesn't work on political stage. But let me read to you this controversy that is really kind of exploding this morning.
Presidential tweet saying, the failing New York Times -- let's put it up on the screen -- quote, a senior White House official who doesn't exist, as saying, quote, even if the meeting were reinstated, holding it on June 12 would be impossible, given the lack of time and the amount of planning needed. Wrong again! Use real people, not phony sources.
Well, audio was leaked to journalist named Yashar Ali, showing that the person here Trump said didn't exist is actually a senior White House official conducting a fully authorized background briefing on Fox News. Because he was at the briefing, he is not going to name this person. We won't name him.
But I think it's a fair question. What about the president saying the person doesn't exist? And what about somebody who agreed to abide by the rules of the background briefing leaking it to another reporter?
FISCHER: I mean, you have to check in the next situation. Reporters are not supposed to be leaking any sort of audio information if there is something that they agreed to would be a background meeting. But at the same time, this reporter may have felt that they needed to leak it because the president was coming out and saying that this official doesn't exist. We now clearly know that it does.
KURTZ: I know you want to get in. Let me just put up a graphic showing what the officially unnamed senior White House official said. The audio contains this as well. There's really not a lot of time. We've lost quite a bit of time. June 12th is in 10 minutes.
HEMINGWAY: So The New York Times wrote a story saying that Donald Trump is at odd with his aides. Donald Trump says June 12th would be difficult but not impossible, where his aides say impossible.
The problem is that no aide said it was impossible. The aide did say there is not a lot of time. The ball is in North Korea's court. That's not a distinction from what the president is saying. So that overall narrative is false. And instead of dealing with the fact that The New York Times did a horrible job of characterizing what this official said, they say, well he exists.
Well, that's not really the issue. White House officials exist. White House officials get background briefings. Did The New York Times say something correct or incorrect when it said that Donald Trump was at odds with his aides? It's a simple thing. They just need to show him saying it was impossible. They were unable to show that.
KURTZ: Clearly the Times overstated the situated. There was nothing that said impossible or anything close to it. But are you letting the president off the hook for saying phony sources, made up sources? Was the person who the White House sent out to brief reporters in person (INAUDIBLE)?
HEMINGWAY: Yeah, there was a person who briefed people on background who did not say what The New York Times said he said. Now, should he have said, you mischaracterized the real person? Perhaps. But the problem is that the news media really have to be accurate.
They don't do a good job of understanding anyone in the Trump administration and it loses credibility. This actually was a major part of the story. They are saying that aide is at odds with the president. They don't have the evidence to support that claim.
KURTZ: Adrienne, there is a pattern here. President Trump often says with stories he doesn't like, phony sources, these people don't exist, the media made them up. Well, you can argue about the way the newspaper wrote it and others have now picked it up in naming this. This is somebody who's name is well known to the American public. The president said he doesn't exist.
ELROD: Yeah. Look, this is Donald Trump's erratic behavior on full display. Whenever he is frustrated with the way the media is covering any sort of story that he's involved with, he immediately calls it fake news, and he tries to disparage the source, the entity that is reporting this.
In this case, he took a standard knee jerk reaction approach and was wrong because this was a background briefing. This was somebody in his administration. It's almost like he didn't get --
KURTZ: By the way, you can say the source was wrong. You can say the source was bias. You can say the source had an agenda. Often those things are true. I just think it has been shown that this was at least a real person.
Let me turn to the other huge story because the president is demanding a Justice Department investigation, as you know, as we mentioned, about New York Times' report on an FBI informant having penetrated the Trump campaign and then going on a tweet storm about the criminal deep state and a major spy scandal and attacking Obama intelligence chief, James Clapper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I mean if you look at Clapper, he sort of admitted that they had spies in the campaign yesterday inadvertently. But I hope it's not true. But it looks like it is. A lot of bad things have happened. We now call it "spygate." You are calling it "spygate."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: So the media consensus, I would take it is fair to say, Mollie Hemingway, except on the conservative side is that the president crossed the line in essentially ordering Justice Department to look into the FBI informant and in fact there is going to be an IG, a Justice Department GI follow (ph) this.
HEMINGWAY: Well, yes, I think that is an interesting thing to say, that this should not be looked into. Obviously, if the FBI is spying on a campaign, that's something that the American people need to know about. They need to understand what protocols were followed, how well they were followed, what was going on, what in the world make them think that this was an OK thing to do.
You just have to do that to restore trust and credibility in our law enforcement and intelligence apparatus. Also, the president does have constitutional authority over the judicial branch. And the judicial branch -- sorry, over the Department of Justice.
HEMINGWAY: Also the Department of Justice is behaving very improperly by not turning over to Congress documents that they have subpoenaed about some of the issues related here. And that is actually a very big crisis that needs to be dealt with.
KURTZ: Whether it is improper, it is very much a matter of political dispute. But Adrienne, this was based on New York Times story. It does seem to me the president has the right to demand accountability about what was at the very least an undercover effort aimed at his campaign. Would you disagree?
ELROD: I disagree because he was actually -- his campaign was the entity that was under investigation.
ELROD: So of course now he is the president, a little bit different bogging (ph) here. But the FBI was using its standard protocol process to send in an informant to try to gather information under an entity that was under investigation. This time it happened to be the president's former campaign.
KURTZ: Sara, what is really interesting here is how President Trump tries to write the media headlines. So, he tweets that this is spying in the campaign. And then as we heard, he brands it spygate, and then he tells reporters, well, you are calling it spygate, except most of them weren't. But now some of them are.
FISCHER: At the end of the day, his branding techniques are what he uses to get the message out. If he thinks that this informant is a spy, then he is going to label it spygate to make sure that his followers kind of agree with his side. But at the end of the day, it is a splashy headline. Now, all the media is picking up on it.
KURTZ: He knows that it's short, it fits in a one-column headline like he knows the media can't resist. Now, President Trump quoted you in a tweet this week, Mollie, you said on the air that everyone knows there was a spy and in fact the people who were involved in the spying are admitting there was a spy. So, that became spygate.
HEMINGWAY: Yeah. Well, I mean, it is true that former intelligence officials including Clapper and Comey have said, yes, but we don't call it a spy. We were doing this, but we don't call it a spy.
Actually in the case of Clapper, he did say, I don't like the term spy, but we were using spies. You know, I forgot exactly how he put it, but he did acknowledge that they were doing this. This is scandalous by any measure.
And to pretend that this is not a big deal, that the previous administration was doing this against an opposing party's political campaign, the idea that journalists shouldn't be clamoring to cover every detail of this, really find out what in the world happened, or to say -- I mean if this is a standard protocol, that is also scandalous.
I don't think people know that we have an FBI that as a rule of standard operation spying on political campaign --
KURTZ: And I very much want --
ELROD: Covered much more -- investigation.
HEMINGWAY: For no good reason though. We have no good reason to go into this campaign. And it looks like all of the things that we have learned about it were part of a setup by the government itself. That's a huge issue.
KURTZ: I very much wanted (INAUDIBLE) table. Adrienne, I will give you chance to get in, but let me get a break first. We will have more on the discussion about the president, the FBI, and the media.
And later, the press is claiming vindication with the arrest of Harvey Weinstein. Why charges against the disgraced mogul feel like a cultural milestone.
KURTZ: We are now in the coverage of the political sniping over an FBI informant who infiltrated the Trump campaign. Adrienne Elrod, I want you to pick up what Mollie Hemingway was saying before the break.
The arguing here and I think the media sometimes lose the thread is either the FBI routinely hire this informant because of Russia contacts by the two Trump advisers, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. Or whether the Obama administration did this for political purposes. We don't fully know, do we?
ELROD: I think this is where we start again getting into dangerous territory here. The Department of Justice was conducting an investigation completely separate from what President Obama was telling the Department of Justice to do.
Two separate situations here. So, again, the Department of Justice felt it was the right thing to do, to send an informant into an entity which was under investigation. This is not because President Obama said, hey, please send in a spy to cover President Trump's campaign.
HEMINGWAY: We do have a text. One these texts that have come out during the investigation showing that people in the Department of Justice were told that the White House would be running things. We don't know exactly what that means.
But we have no way of knowing precisely what President Obama knew. Who in his top here knew what, when they knew it, how much involved they were. And these are again like why I am so shocked that we don't have more journalists just thinking this is a huge story, let's dig into it.
KURTZ: I think journalists do think it's a really important story. But you -- the question is, is it a story that you dig into because there are serious unanswered questions and this could be a huge scandal, bigger than Watergate, the president says? Or you conclude on one side of the aisle or the other that it is one thing or the other. You would agree there are some unanswered questions?
HEMINGWAY: Absolutely. And there might be perfectly reasonable explanations about why four to seven or more campaign people were wiretapped. Why there were national security letters used against them? Why there was at least one human informant sent in to spy on the campaign?
And this, by the way, the idea that this is not spying, secretly collecting information on behalf of the government, that is something we call spying.
KURTZ: But interestingly, Sara, there was CNN banner (ph) the other day, a headline on the screen similar to The New York Times a few days earlier. Trump repeats on proven claim about, quote, spy in campaign.
So, it sounds like the media is engaged in a semantic debate here and I guess the reason it is important is that spy sounds like a 007 double agent sinister thing.
FISCHER: It is exactly what you said. So, look, people on the right might feel as though this is absolutely a vindication for the president, he was being spied on. Whereas critics on the left will say, no, it's not spy, he is an informant that is being used in any sort of campaign investigation.
It really comes natural war (ph) semantics. Whether or not you want to use this story for the right or for the left. And I think it's going to be something we continue to debate for a bunch of weeks.
KURTZ: And will commentators on both sides or on all sides, you know, so walk into this question of the FBI informant. There is a lot more to know. We will see what the IG says. Do you think it cancels itself out in this sense? Not that it is not an important story.
KURTZ: But for people who aren't sort of obsessed or following it like we are supposed to do as commentators. That it all becomes a bunch of Washington noise and it's not clear and people just go on with their lives.
ELROD: Yeah, I think you're spot on there. And I think this is exactly what President Trump wants. I mean, he is trying to blow this (INAUDIBLE) spygate. Yet again another distraction. And unfortunately, it's not a way that President Trump and his allies are using to discredit the FBI and the government institution.
HEMINGWAY: When the president said that Obama had wiretapped him, everyone in the media said that was not just outrageously untrue, but that would be a huge scandal if it were true that there was spying on his campaign.
Now that we know that again there are wiretaps, national security letters, human informant, now they are saying, oh, they were doing it for his own good or it's not a big deal, this is standard operating procedure.
Everyone can see that the media are changing their position and they are doing it in a way that is not conducive to actually getting real information.
KURTZ: Before we go, Sara, I want to ask you about a federal judge's ruling this week, it got a lot of attention, saying that President Trump on his Twitter account, Donald Trump cannot block people because, because he is a big public official. That would bad. Your thoughts on that.
FISCHER: I mean, he is not just the president. They made this ruling about all public officials. And I think it is the first time we have to actually take a look at how new mediums are going to be regulated for archives and records. You will remember a few months ago, the national archives say that you can't delete a tweet without it going into the record.
This is just a new step and new technology in understanding how all public officials not just the president are going to be monitored moving forward.
KURTZ: Right. Journalists block people all the time as do others. Adrienne Elrod, Mollie Hemingway, Sara Fischer, thanks very much for joining us.
This holiday weekend, journalists gave rise to a cultural movement by exposing the sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein. What does it mean that he is finally facing criminal charges himself?
KURTZ: Less than a year after The New York Times and The New Yorker revealed a long list of horrifying sexual assault and misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein, launching what we now call the "Me Too Movement," the disgraced movie mogul was arrested on Friday and charged with rape and a criminal sex act, two different cases to alleged victims. He's pleading not guilty, complete with as you see there, a New York perp walk.
Joining us now from New York is Kat Timpf, National Review writer and Fox News contributor. Kat, regardless of what happens in this particular trial, most of them were famous allegations against Weinstein from Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd and dozen of others are barred by statute of limitations, what is the cultural impact for everyone to see those pictures of Harvey Weinstein being led away from the court in handcuffs?
KAT TIMPF, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I certainly think that a lot of people really enjoyed watching that pervert be led away in handcuffs, myself included. And this is something that people have made a lot of jokes about.
When you think about it, it really is powerful because this is certainly a moment that I know a lot of his victims never thought that they would see come. You always see powerful men getting away with these kinds of things historically. And it seemed like that is changing now. He actually potentially faces some real legal consequences here for his actions.
KURTZ: Yeah, I think you're putting your finger on it. And it is impossible to overstate the impact of those stories about Weinstein and how it spread across Hollywood, the media, Silicon Valley, the corporate world, you name it.
But is it also a sort of a vindication of investigative journalism as practiced by the Times and Ronan Farrow, bringing down someone and Weinstein who as you say was seen as untouchable and wielded so much power through the media and bullied people through the media, that nobody thought he would actually be charged and led away in handcuffs.
TIMPF: I absolutely think that it's a vindication and perhaps go out to everyone who was involved in helping expose it. I also think it represents a huge cultural shift. In the past, men used to be able to get away with assaulting or abusing women if they were powerful men and they had influence.
Now, we are seeing a lot of people particularly in the media willing to believe the stories of women, actually listen to them and share those stories and that is eventually leading to getting justice for these victims.
KURTZ: You know, Jodi Kantor, one of The New York Times co-authors of this investigative piece, has tweeted, quoting various things that Weinstein had said or told alleged victims in the past.
One phone call and you are done. I have ears and yes everywhere. I am Harvey Weinstein and you know what I can do. And then she writes, not anymore. But I will ask this question.
Is there a little bit too much of a celebratory tone to some of these stories and tweets because as much as you might have enjoyed, I might have enjoyed seeing Weinstein brought down and again now to a fair trial, this is also a tragedy that ruined lives, deeply affected the lives of many young and aspiring actresses.
TIMPF: Yeah, absolutely. Although it is great to see him get arrested, the pain that I am sure he has caused to so many women is something that never goes away. And that's why you have to at least look at the fact that at least he is going to be facing some consequences.
And also, hopefully this could send a message to other men out there that, hey, maybe you used to be able to get away with this kind behavior, but times are changing, and you can't get away with it anymore.
KURTZ: Right. I just want to sort of underscore the fact that this was a tragedy that touched the lives of so many people.
KURTZ: And of course, Weinstein has become the preeminent symbol of what has happened in many, many businesses. Great to see you this Sunday, Kat Timpf. Thank you very much.
TIMPF: Thank you.
KURTZ: Coming up, Bret Baier on certain similarities in the coverage of Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan. And later, the reporter who exposed the blood-testing company Theranos and for the media turned its founder into a superstar.
KURTZ: Time now for a deeper dive on the coverage of President Trump's foreign policy, amidst this on again off again summit with Kim Jong-Un. I sat down this morning with Bret Baier, Fox's chief political anchor, also the anchor with special report, and the author of the new book, "Three Days in Moscow: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of the Soviet Empire.:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Bret Baier, welcome.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: Thanks, Howie.
KURTZ: The president's cancellation of the summit with Kim Jong-Un after that big build, and that was after he spent those months taunting him as little rocket man, and now he says the summit maybe back on. Do all of these zigzag moves in foreign policy make it challenging to cover Donald Trump?
BAIER: Yes, because you don't know what exactly is going to happen, let alone the foreign policy issues, but also the logistics of following and covering a president. We were scheduled to go to Singapore and planning you know ahead to how that was going to work and the travel and the shows, and covering this summit to be. So as it fell apart, you know do you cancel the tickets, do you not, do you hold on. Right now we are in limbo and we'll see.
KURTZ: We'll see what happens.
KURTZ: To coin a phrase. You know so for example, when the President threatens to pull out of NAFTA and then he doesn't, but he does pull our of the Iran nuclear deal. He says he's going to withdraw his troops from Syria but then he pulls back. You have one group of commentators and analysts who say you know he's strategic and he's unpredictable, and others say he's erratic. And sometimes it could be hard to discern because you don't know how these things play out.
BAIER: I think it could be both. We don't know what's driving some you know of those decisions. I think that it's clear that foreign governments look at him as unpredictable. And in some cases, that plays to their benefit, the U.S. In other cases, it does not. And it disturbs allies and causes problems. So I think unpredictable is clear. Why is not.
KURTZ: I tidbit from your book, when Ronald Reagan was opposing the nuclear freeze, Caspar Weinberger recalled a critic, telling the President you destroyed 20 years patient diplomatic effort. Reagan said to have replied but what did patience (Inaudible) for 20 years get us. It sounds like Donald Trump.
BAIER: It does. You know there are a lot differences between Trump and Reagan in personality and their style. But there are multiple -- things that these threats that we faced at the time are very similar. And changing the paradigm in Washington and in foreign policy is very similar, and that Reagan kind of upset the apple cart as far as detente and foreign policy towards the Soviet Union. And perhaps Donald Trump is doing something similar, but we'll see how it works out with North Korea.
KURTZ: Both were outsiders. Reagan was (Inaudible) as just an actor who did a two-term governor of California, of course, President Trump, a businessman and reality TV star. But what's striking to me is that you know I heard echoes in the 1980 campaign. A lot of press said that Ronald Reagan was a war monger that he was going to lead us into nuclear war. We heard some of that too when Trump and Kim Jong-Un were at odds and trading nuclear threats.
BAIER: Yeah. I mean think about it. We were going to war with North Korea about three or four months ago. But now the prospect at least of sitting down at the summit is there. Some very aggressive speeches and some tweets and rocket man and how big is your button happened in between there, now again, that is not Reagan style, looking back.
But he was saying that communism was going to be on the ash heap of history. The Soviet Union was the evil empire. And at the time, those things were seen as being a war monger and unacceptable and inflammatory.
KURTZ: And now of course, he's given great credit for helping to end the Cold War. But one more thing that strikes me was the way they dealt with the media. I mean Reagan got a lot of bad press, revisionist history much better of course. But his reaction (Inaudible) was well, there they go again, whereas President Trump obviously fights the press. There's a strategy deliberately all the time.
BAIER: That's one of the major distinctions, and that he was getting hammered, Reagan was, by the Sam Donaldson's, and the Helen Thomas' and all those folks that we're covering the administration. And pretty tough, every administration thinks they have it pretty tough.
BAIER: They all complain. And I think Reagan had some argument to make. But you are right. He didn't internalize that or turned it around a lot of times. (Inaudible) said just like you said, he kind of blew it off and said maybe I can get them on my side if you explain it the right way. Well, Donald Trump is the exact opposite. And that is he's a counter puncher. He is the hard scrabble streets of New York in real estate development.
And you know he's taking it to a much different level as far as attacking the press. I think maybe to the detriment overall of our discussion, but politically, he's used this to hammer the media and has picked up you know his base to say you know that's fake news.
KURTZ: It's a very different time of course, with Twitter and social media. And speaking of (Inaudible) the press, so let's (Inaudible) "60 Minutes" came out the other at a forum and recalled a conversation she said had with the President-elect right after the 2016 campaign. And she said to them you beat up on the press all the time. It's getting old. It's getting boring. And then she characterized his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESLIE STAHL, CBS NEWS: He said you know why I do it. I do it to discredit you all and demean you all. So when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: All right. So to discredit you, to demean you, assuming that Leslie Stahl is remembering this exchange correctly, what does that tell us about the President's (Inaudible), when he does go after the fourth estate.
BAIER: Well, I don't know the context. I don't know whether he was joking or not, half joking, serious. You know can you hear Donald Trump saying that? Yes. And if that's his thinking and mentality, then that tells you something about some of the actions he has taken along the way. But I think it's strange that it's taken this long to hear this anecdote.
And I just think that there is not a lot here that we didn't know. I think it's disturbing if you think about that's really his motivation. But I don't know that's 100 percent his motivation until you know you see it, or hear it, or have context of it.
KURTZ: You know and if you flip it around, there are certainly some people in the media, Bret, who view it as their job to discredit and demean the President. So this is not a one way (Inaudible) war by any means. Bret Baier, thanks very much for sitting down with us.
BAIER: Thanks, Howie.
KURTZ: Good luck with the book.
BAIER: Thank you.
KURTZ: Ahead on "Media Buzz," HBO hails John McCain as a hero. (Inaudible) hot and cold relationship with the press, but after the break, the press was casting Elizabeth Holmes as the next Steve Jobs, until a Wall Street Journal reporter started investigating her company. He'll be here, an amazing story.
KURTZ: The media hailed Elizabeth Holmes as a Silicon Valley superstar when she launched her company, Theranos and its miraculous-sounding technology of cheap, fast blood tests taken from mere finger pricks. She was tall, smart, and single, dubbed USA today. She was very cool said Glamour. Holmes quickly became a magazine cover girl.
Fortune, this CEO is out for blood. Inc Magazine, the next Steve Jobs, she was the face of the Forbes 400 richest Americans, the magazine calling her the youngest woman to become a self-made billionaire. And television wasn't far behind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
CRAMER: All right, Elizabeth. You are doing something so profound.
ELIZABETH HOLMES, THERANOS: The goal is to empower the individual.
CRAMER: I regard you as a visionary next generation person.
ADAM SHAPIRO, FBN: You have been referred to as a Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. I think we should just refer to you as Elizabeth Holmes, because what you are doing is revolutionizing blood tests.
HOLMES: I started this company because I wanted to be able to change the reality in our healthcare system.
CHARLIE ROSE, PBS: It's less expensive. The results are quicker. And it's in fact it is widespread. You could have a huge impact on the healt hcare system.
HOLMES: That is our goal and our dream, yes.
O'DONNELL: A healthcare pioneer is being compared to visionaries like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. This morning, Elizabeth Holmes is part of the new time 100 list just out.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: But in the fall of 2015, Wall Street Journal Reporter John Carreyrou raised some fundamental questions in an investigative piece, saying Theranos was worth $9 billion, but wasn't using its much-touted technology for most of its blood tests. And Elizabeth Holmes played defense in a television blitz.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN: For the very first time, Elizabeth Holmes is opening up the secret labs of Theranos.
HOLMES: At the highest level, we didn't have the right leadership in the laboratory.
MARIA SHRIVER, NBC NEWS You are really fighting for the life of your company. What have these last six months been like for you?
HOLMES: Well, I am a better person for it, and I'm a better leader. I feel devastated and that we did not catch and fix these issues faster.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KURTZ: Two months ago, the SEC charged Holmes with massive fraud and she paid a $500,000 fine, returned her shares in Theranos, and agreed not be an officer of any company for 10 years. Her company now just with a skeleton staff.
And joining us from New York is John Carreyrou of the Wall Street Journal and author of "Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup." John, thanks for joining us.
Looking back, how did the media give such rocket fuel to a young woman and her startup company that turned out essentially to be a fraud?
JOHN CARREYROU, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, Theranos was actually founded in 2003 when Elizabeth dropped out of Stanford. She was just a sophomore. And it operated under the radar, the media for about 10 years. So by the time she rose to fame in late 2013, 2014, Theranos had actually been around for a while, for a longer period of time than many Silicon Valley startups.
And you would expect to have achieved something during all that time. And indeed the company claimed to have achieved a lot, which was to have pioneered groundbreaking new science, whereby the company had this device that could run the full range of laboratory tests off just a drop or two pricked from a finger. That would've been an amazing achievement because that was not -- no one had cracked.
You know thousands of academics and researchers in industry.
KURTZ: If it were true.
KURTZ: And she got an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal. You said that your newspaper played a role in her meteoric rise. Well, let's look at Theranos board. It had all these luminaries. Henry Kissinger, Sam (Inaudible), Jim Mathis, now Defense Secretary. George (Inaudible) the former Secretary of State. You were talking to his grandson, Tyler Schultz as a source and the company found out that he called you. What happened then?
CARREYROU: Right. I mean so my first original source wasn't Tyler, but he was certainly an important corroborating source. And I first made contact with him through LinkedIn, (Inaudible) and didn't hear back for a month. And then suddenly in the middle of the afternoon one day at the Wall Street Journal's midtown Manhattan headquarters. I picked up the phone and he's calling me. He's terrified.
He's got a burner phone. He didn't want this call to be traced. And he starts telling me about his experience at the company, which had lasted eight months and ended with him trying to raise his concerns with Elizabeth and her boyfriend, who was number two in the company, Sunny Balwani. And they had basically told him in no uncertain terms that he was too young and too green and didn't know what he was talking about, and essentially told him to shut up or leave.
And so he ended up leaving, at which point Elizabeth called his grandfather, George, the famous former Secretary of State and told him that if Tyler insisted in pursuing this vendetta against her, he would lose.
KURTZ: Wow. So Elizabeth Holmes, while you were investigating whether these allegations were true, she wouldn't talk to you. But you met with a pretty high-powered legal team, headed by Uber lawyer David Boies and it got pretty hot in terms of the messages that the team was trying to send to you.
CARREYROU: That's right. They came to our offices at the Wall Street Journal in late June 2015. And it was David Boies and two of his associates, and Heather King who had been Boies' partner, and (Inaudible) as (Inaudible) as general counsel a few months prior. And we met with them for five hours. And they took a very aggressive stance, which was that I had misappropriated Theranos trade secrets and that I needed to either destroy them or return them immediately.
It was a surreal meeting. I kept trying to get substantive answers to my questions, such as how many tests were actually run on Theranos devices, and how many were run on commercial analyzers. And they wouldn't answer any of those questions and they kept invoking these trade secrets. Within a couple of days of that meeting, we received our first letter from David Boies, and then several after that.
KURTZ: It respectfully said we're going to sue.
KURTZ: Let me just move ahead to the fact that one of the people who is enticed and to putting personal money into Theranos was Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the Wall Street Journal, of course. His family owns it.
KURTZ: Fox News as well. How much did that complicate your reporting?
CARREYROU: You know I actually didn't know about it. Until a few days before we went to press, I hadn't heard a thing about it, and then I heard some vague rumors, was not at all able to confirm them. And from my point of view, I was looking at a company and digging into the company for nine months before we published that first story.
And there was no interference that I could see. So really it wasn't a factor for me. And when I finally got confirmation that he was an investor and not only an investor, but the single largest investor, having put $125 million into the company. I learned about that a year later.
CARREYROU: Essentially, when I went on book leave to write the book.
KURTZ: Right. So it was an effort by Elizabeth Holmes to get him to kill the story. That didn't happen. You didn't know about it, (Inaudible) end up losing a whole lot of money. Finally, I have got about half a minute. All of these magazine covers we showed, these TV segments, the next Steve Jobs, bloody amazing. She's amazing. Looking back -- and I realize (Inaudible) hindsight it seems like a pretty serious indictment of business journalism to provide all that hype for something that turned out to be so flawed.
CARREYROU: You could make an argument that some reporters should have asked more questions and consulted more experts. But you know I'm inclined not to fault some of the people who wrote about her too much (Inaudible) at Fortune Magazine, the New Yorker because she was outright lying to them. She was bald faced lying again and again to them. And they didn't necessarily to have any reason to think that they were dealing with a pathological liar and a fraudster.
KURTZ: Right. But that's why we have investigative reporters like you who take a long time, John Carreyrou, great to see you this Sunday.
CARREYROU: Thanks for having me.
KURTZ: Ahead on Media Buzz, a (Inaudible) new documentary on John McCain reminds me that media have always loved the guy except when they haven't.
KURTZ: The HBO documentary on John McCain, which debuts Monday is extremely favorable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) I have not always done the right thing, but you will never talk to anyone that is as fortunate as John McCain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: It's such a wet kiss, the filmmakers don't even mention McCain's battles with President Trump. And they showcase the praise for the Republican senator who is battling brain cancer, from Barack Obama, Joe Biden, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. McCain has also had a famously warm relationship with the fourth estate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seriously though, it's always a pleasure to appear before the journalistic community, or what one of my advisors affectionately calls my base.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: McCain is a war hero who refused early release as POW in Vietnam, but also a controversial figure in the Republican Party, especially given his strong opposition to Trump, who he bashes in his new book, and for voting against repealing Obamacare in that dramatic late-night vote. I first got to know the Senator during his 2000 Presidential campaign, when I and other reporters would talk to him for 8 or 10 hours a day on his bus trips.
He didn't have much money and he would answer questions until we ran out of questions, and then we would talk about sports or movies or whatever. The press cast McCain as a maverick, both when he was running against Bush and during the Bush administration. The pundits wrote off McCain's second campaign in 2007 when he was broke.
But once he won the nomination and he was running against Obama, the coverage turned more negative, not just of his conservative positions, but in questioning his temperament. The media's maverick label faded as McCain took on the Obama administration and journalists rediscovered that he was in fact a conservative Republican.
But McCain emerged as a sharp critic of Donald Trump, the press started admiring him once again. But McCain has had his low moments. His passion for campaign finances reform came after he was ensnared in the (Inaudible) banking scandal. His reputation for honesty was tarred when he apologized for betraying his principles and not calling for the removal of the Confederate Flag from the state house in South Carolina, because he didn't want to lose the primary there.
McCain really enjoys (Inaudible) reporters as I learned. But he can get pretty angry when he doesn't like an article, as I learned first hand as well. Now as he fights his last battle, the media shouldn't paint John McCain as a saint, but should report fairly on his courage, his compromises, and his contradictions.
That's it for this edition of Media Buzz. I'm Howard Kurtz. I hope you are enjoying this Memorial Day weekend as we remember those who sacrificed for our country. I hope you'll like our Facebook page. I post my columns there as well as original video. Continue the conversation on Twitter @howardkurtz, and you can always DVR the show if you're out doing something else.
We like you to see what we have to offer. Keep in mind we will back here next Sunday morning as we always are, 11:00 Eastern is the time. See you then with the latest buzz.
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